Brondello’s Commitment, Work Ethic Unmatched

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: March 12, 2014

Sandy Brondello commands respect in the most genuine and pleasant sense of the word.

There’s nothing manufactured about her; what you see is what you get – namely, one of the hardest working people in all of women’s basketball.

Brondello – who recently spent a week in Phoenix preparing for the 2014 season – has an unmistakable sense of determination and confidence that is infectious to those around her and ultimately why she got the job.

“That’s what set her apart,” Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman said. “She works extremely hard. There’s no denying how much time she puts in to scouting her opponent and preparing the team.

“In fact, I’m confident we’ll be the most prepared team in the league.”

The passion Brondello has for winning is palpable within seconds of speaking with her. Her eyes light up and basketball knowledge instinctively flows with a flavor of optimism and encouragement.

Qualities the Mercury will surely benefit from in terms of both preparation and development.

"We have a lot of talented players and it will be up to me to put them in the right situation to be successful,” said Brondello. “I was more of an offensive player, but as a coach, everything starts on the defensive end for me. That’s the type of team I want to have. We have to get tougher. That’s not an option.

"If we get better at the little things, the big things will take care of themselves."

With the recent acquisition of WNBA Champion guard Erin Phillips, Brondello has already made a significant mark on the type of team she envisions the Mercury having. In many ways, Phillips exemplifies a “Brondello” player: tough and smart with an insatiable work ethic to boot.

Solidifying the point guard position was one of her key priorities before the season tips off.

“Erin [Phillips] might have her biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor,” Brondello said. “She’s really a great defender on the ball. More than anything, Erin gives us depth and toughness.

“But she’s also heady and effective on the offensive end which will give Diana [Taurasi] a bit of break and allow her to play off the ball.”

Indeed, Brondello understands the ins and outs of Diana Taurasi’s game better than most. She and husband Olaf Lange coach Taurasi – along with Sue Bird and Candace Parker – in Russia during the “offseason.” Because of that, she has seen firsthand the layers of Taurasi’s game and how she can adapt to any style of play.

And her glowing praise of the superstar certainly isn’t surprising.

"Diana Taurasi is the best player in the world,” said Brondello. “For many reasons. Every day she steps on the floor, she goes as hard as she possibly can. She prepares like a professional and makes everyone around her better.

“Her drive to win is as deep as any player I’ve ever been around.”

Nevertheless, Brondello also recognizes the core of this Mercury squad and how special they could be. She says one of her immediate goals as head coach is to get each player back to doing what they do best on the floor.

“Diana and Candice [Dupree] in a pick and roll…they're unstoppable when they're in the zone,” Brondello added. “I want Brittney [Griner] to be stronger around the basket. I want DB [DeWanna Bonner] to get back to more slashing and cutting to the rim.

“No matter what roles players have on the team, toughness has to be at the forefront.”

The goal?

“A WNBA Championship,” Brondello replied without hesitation. “That’s always the goal.”